Public fundamentally misunderstands contact centres, new YouGov survey shows

PRESS RELEASE: A new YouGov survey by global technology integrator Aquarium Software shows that the British public fundamentally misunderstands the purpose and role of contact centres. While, in reality, just 4% of contact centres are exclusively sales-based, 75% of Brits think at least half of all contact centre activity is dedicated purely to making sales calls.

Aquarium is calling for the contact centre industry to be more transparent about its activities, to help alleviate an often negative perception of their role in commerce.

While there are still contact centres engaged in sales, those working exclusively in this area account for just 4% of all contact centres, according to Steve Morrell, industry expert and insider from ContactBabel. The reality is that over 10 times as many contact centres (43% of UK contact centres) carry out service only operations, such as responding to customer queries.

The extent of the public misunderstanding of contact centres is really emphasised by the fact that, industry-wide, the actual split of all contact centre output is 75% service and 25% sales, a far cry from the sales dominated picture imagined by the public.

“It’s not all that surprising to hear that the public are somewhat sceptical towards contact centres, but I have to say I am quite surprised at the extent of their misunderstanding,” said Ed Shropshire, Managing Director of Aquarium Software. “It’s now vital for contact centres to try to transform their public image, in order that the public better understands their role. While in reality, around one in twenty are exclusively sales-based, and only a quarter of all contact centre activity is sales-related. Our YouGov research shows over 85% of the public think that most contact centres are trying to sell to us.” Ed adds.

“The poor reputation of contact centres can cause issues when hiring staff, and also make it harder to reach out to existing customers for non-sales purposes. For consumers, meanwhile, a misunderstanding of the role of contact centres can lead to them missing out on valuable services and assistance which the centres are set up to provide,” he explains.

As any politician will tell you, winning over a sceptical public is never easy. But according to Ed, there are a number of measures that contact centres can take to help improve their public image. “One big trend in the contact centre market is the move towards non-telephone based forms of contact – online and social media particularly. A strong presence in these areas can help to demonstrate to consumers that your operation is more focused around providing a service, than simply on sales.

“As part of this, it is important to be able to move seamlessly and effectively between different platforms – so from a phone call to web chat to email, for instance, with the right arm very much in tune with what the left is doing. This requires investing in a high quality omnichannel software solution, which many contact centres are now coming round to realising,” Ed concludes.

All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2077 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3 – 4 May 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).